What Da Vinci Didn’t Know: A Book Review

May_2006_DaVinciDidntKnowWhat Da Vinci Didn’t Know: An LDS Perspective
Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Andrew C. Skinner, Thomas A. Wayment

Page one of The Da Vinci Code boldly declares, “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate” (The Da Vinci Code, p. 1). Though admittedly other factors play into the success of this book, one might wonder how well it would have done without this opening assertion.

At this point, such speculation is neither here nor there. Just as many other critics have already sprung to the task of debunking The Da Vinci Code, Holzapfel and Co. have released “An LDS Perspective” just ahead of the movie opening this weekend (even references to the movie are made in the book). [Read more…]

“If I Would Have Known…I Would Have Never…”

A few years back, a friend of mine — who shall remain namefull (Logan Bobo) — and I worked together and had a mutual acquaintance. Britney was usually good for a laugh around the proverbial water cooler. Until one day when she told us of how she had recently found out something about her husband, which, had she known in the past, would have caused her never to marry him in the first place! At the time, Logan and I were shocked (and curious, actually, we never found out what that one thing was). [Read more…]

Church Growth Problems Ignored

So I was sitting in Priesthood a few weeks ago when good ol’ Wilford Woodruff was quoted as to saying something about the Church’s amazing growth. This, of course, sparked positive comments from the Elders including the classic false superlative “fastest growing Church.” After a few more comments / proverbial pats on the back for our Church’s amazing growth, I made my comment. [Read more…]

Reconciling Eternal Coincidences

I recently read over my patriarchal blessing and found myself asking some rhetorical questions. I don’t have issues with the blessing itself. In fact, it’s quite lovely (to me). It reads more like a story than like a blessing and offers a condensed version of Mormonism with me as the central figure. But the strong focus on our earthly experience within the context of eternity often causes me to reflect on some very powerful coincidences. [Read more…]

Politics and the True Church

Logan and I recently had an interesting discussion in which, among other things, we discussed how the Church influences its members’ political activity.

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Is Exaltation a Gift?

Last Sunday, the Elders’ Quorum instructor based his lesson on a talk by Elder Faust in which something like “exaltation is the greatest gift from God” was quoted and used throughout the lesson. Now leaving aside my never-ending concern with superlatives in the Church (i.e., What about agency? The atonement? The utilitarian in me can’t help but rank these higher than exaltation to the extent that quite a bit more people are affected), I have a more specific question:

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BYU’s Unfortunate Change for 2006

My wife just received a letter from BYU stating that, starting in 2006, BYU will no longer accept VISA for tuition, fees, insurance premiums, and loans. American Express, Discover, and MasterCard usage will now require a 2.75 percent service charge. In true Mormon superlative speech, let me just say that this is the dumbest thing in the world.

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My Missing Newsweek Mingled with Speculation

I have been a subscriber to Newsweek for over three years and haven’t had the need to call customer service asking why I haven’t received a particular issue… until this week!

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Cause/Effect Mormonism

I have a friend and coworker with whom I had a discussion a few months back. The bulk of the conversation centered on his thoughts of “you do your home teaching and things just run better in the ward.” I couldn’t deny him his feelings on the subject, as he had loosely put together examples of how this has worked in his life. But more importantly, his conviction of this was strong.

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My New Dialogue Subscription

Due to By Common Consent’s recent affiliation with Dialogue, I have revisited the idea of subscribing to the journal. So, for the fist time in my life, I will subscribe to an independent publication focused around Mormonism. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? Well, for me it is, and here’s why:

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My latest project is a website designed to help beginner to intermediate Internet users better understand the world of computers. While I do want to provide something useful, I’m not opposed to serving two masters through my use of advertising. Although I have a great domain name, at this point I’m trying to gain exposure and seek quality feedback and, if appropriate, get other sites to link to computers.net. What better place to ask for feedback than the Bloggernacle? If you get a chance, check it out and give me your take on the ads, content, and design.

Mission Weight Dynamics

As part of his weekly e-mail, my younger brother serving in Sweden mentioned that he has lost forty pounds! I think he’s been in "the field" for almost five months now. That’s nearly two pounds a week he’s been shaving off. I bring this up because, at least in my family (five of us kids having served missions), the mission weight dynamic has varying results.

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Socially Retarded

Yesterday, on my way out of the testing center, a young man stopped me and asked, "Hey, do you need employment?" To which I answered, "No, I’ve got a job, thanks."

"Well, if you sell these alarm systems over the summer you can make thousands!" Sorry folks, thousands just doesn’t do it for me (maybe millions) let alone alarm systems. So I replied, "I’m really not interested." But he continued.

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The Law of Chastity Spin Off

Yesterday at Church, the topic was supposedly the Law of Chastity. Both speakers discussed various aspects of this law. I was somewhat taken back (but not really, as I’ve grown up Mormon) by one particular example of following the Law of Chastity.

This particular speaker shared a story of how her visiting teaching companion came over when she (the speaker) was not home. Naturally, the speaker’s husband answered the door and invited in his wife’s visiting teaching companion. But she (the visitor) boldly declared that she would not enter the house so that there would be no question as to what she had done with her visiting teaching companion’s husband.

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Genealogy Breakthrough!

After 45 years of genealogy work, my dad finally came across some startling news for the Caswell family:

We are related to Joseph Smith, and here’s how:

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Why I Am Apparently Not Entrepreneurial

This past semester, I have been enrolled in a class called “Entrepreneur Lecture Series.” “Successful” entrepreneurs would come give presentations on their journey; lessons; and, well, “success.” Though I own my own business and have just been bought out of another business, I don’t think of myself as an entrepreneur. And here’s why:

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Temple Discussion

Over conference weekend, my mind was somewhat preoccupied with thoughts of the temple. I know we’ve discussed this before (what haven’t we discussed before?), but this time I have some specific questions.

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Movies By Rating

This weekend, while rearranging our DVD collection, I decided to conduct a little experiment. Just for fun, I wanted to know how many movies we had of each rating under the MPAA. The results and follow-up findings, while not shocking, started me down the path of, you know, thinking.

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The Barrier to Entry for Mormon Translators

Last year around this same time, the Church announced that it would pay its part-time Church interpreters for General Conference. In the past, if you had skills with a particular language, generally you could work with the Church in the interpretation department in one of three ways:

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Decisions We [May Have] Made When We Were Younger

An exchange I had with Melissa on The Passion Recut thread sparked an interesting conversation topic, which John Mansfield pointed out. I’d like to quote each of us involved (in shouldn’t be long and can be easily skipped by those familiar with the conversation) in order to set the stage before I get into the real nuts and bolts of what this thread is to be about.

Melissa: I made a commitment when I was a Beehive never to watch an R-rated movie, and I never have. While my commitment as a 12 year old may have originated from that kind of desire to be obedient, my motivation over the years to not watch R-rated movies has changed a lot.
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The Passion Recut: Mormon Friendly?

Mel Gibson has removed five to six minutes from his monumental film, which is to be re-released March 11, 2005. Interestingly enough, the film’s distributor, Newmarket, has no plans to release this version on DVD or VHS. Rather, the idea is to release this version of the film each year around Easter, an intriguing marketing concept. But that’s not really the scope of this post, read on for some more details and the real discussion I have in store for you.
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Mormonism: What it isn’t, and what it might be

A brief exchange with John H. on our popularity-contest-winner of a thread has brought up some questions I have, which might be best examined in a separate post. I said:

"So, John H., if Palmer’s book didn’t merit any sort of action by the Church, and bearing in mind all of the info you presented us about Church changes, etc., what, to you, is there that is Mormonism and not up for Palmer types to discredit? I’m not necessarily saying there has to be something, I’m just curious to know if you think there is (or if anyone else thinks there is)."

And John H. replied:

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The Mormon “We” Problem

It’s that time of the week again… I get to pick a post I’ve written in the hopes that some of you will read it. The pick this week was an idea I had that didn’t stimulate the type of discussion I was hoping for the first time around. So either it’s a dud or I didn’t have the golden crowd I do now. Here goes the second try:

As Logan and I dove deep into our conversation on appropriate music, I began formulating my own theory and have decided to name it the Mormon "We" Problem. I like to think of it is a paradox, but it may not quite be that. I’d appreciate anyone’s feedback as I try and articulate something that is more of a thought and less of a researched, proven fact.

It all started when I asked a simple question of "What music should we boycott?" To which Logan responded, "You seem to operate on the assumption that some music should be boycotted."

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Withholding the Truth from Ethnic Minorities

This post has a special place in my heart as it is one of the first times Kristine graced me with her ability to find holes in my arguments in such a loving, older sister sort of way. Thus, it ranks as number four on my short list of favorite blog posts from Sons of Mosiah. After quite the discussion, I think we came to a good understanding. But I’m sure there are plenty of you out there just waiting for a chance to voice your opinion on this topic. I’ve included my discussion with Kristine at the end of the post. This is where you’ll find Kristine’s classic line: "Bob, I *am* sweet and nice, and about 90% traditional : ) You’re one of the lucky few who gets to know the other 10%."

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Principles vs. Rules and the Word of Wisdom

As was previously mentioned, Logan and I will be posting our self-designated top posts from our previous blog. We each have picked five of our favorites to share with you. My number five choice: "Principles vs. Rules and the Word of Wisdom".

As can be seen from the first line, this post stemmed out of a discussion I (we) had with Matt and Adam at T&S. We were quite honestly baffled by their understanding of rules and principles. As such, I felt the need to clarify our position even more by creating a separate post. The post was meant to be a setup for more discussion about principles vs. rules. But my Word of Wisdom reference took all the glory and spun off a discussion with your friend and mine, Grasshopper. This didn’t particularly bother me, as Grasshopper’s original thoughts are most insightful. Selections from our comments have been included for your reading pleasure. Although if this does seem a bit long, skip past the comments and give me your take on principles vs. rules.
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